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Actor Edward Norton is Helping Anchor Brewing Recycle Its Water…Kinda

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Photo of Edward Norton by David Shankbone. Photo of Anchor Steam by James Cridland

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and actor Edward Norton on Friday helped the city’s oldest brewery launch a new water recycling system — capable of saving the city 20 million gallons of water per year.

The historic Anchor Brewing Company is set to begin using a new water reuse system that will collect and treat ‘process water’ onsite at its brewery, located in the city’s Potrero Hill neighborhood.

Once treated, the process water won’t go into the beer, but instead be used for things like rinsing bottles and cleaning equipment.

Because most breweries typically need anywhere between five and seven gallons of water to produce just one gallon of beer, the innovative system will help Anchor meet its demand while also saving the environment.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has already approved the new system, with final commissioning processes taking place, SFPUC officials said.

The project was made possible through a $1 million grant provided to Anchor by the SFPUC through a grant program encouraging the city’s retail water users to collect and recycle water for non-drinking uses onsite.

Founded in San Francisco in 1896, the Anchor Brewing Company is one of the city’s Legacy Businesses.

During a briefing at the Anchor Brewing Company’s brewery, Breed said as the state battles a persistent drought and wildfires, the need for projects like this is urgent.

Actor Ed Norton, Cambrian Innovation Founder and CEO Matthew Silver, and Mayor London Breed at Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco, Calif. on Oct. 22, 2021 (Daniel Montes/Bay City News Service).

“We have to think differently about the way that we do things in order to protect the environment but also to preserve and use water in different ways,” she said. “Here, a lot of water is used, and in fact, the work being done here today is absolutely extraordinary.”

The system was created by Cambrian Innovation, which specializes in providing water treatment and reuse solutions.

Norton, an environmental advocate and a Cambrian Innovation Board of Directors member, said he hopes the project will set a precedent for other municipalities and large businesses.

“The state of California doesn’t really have a water supply problem. California has a water management problem,” he said. “We can’t any longer afford to presume that industrial users can just throw it away after they use it. We’ve got to demand as a city, as a state, as a country that the world that we’re living in insist that industrial users take responsibility for recycling that water and using it again.”

He added, “This should be a national standard.”

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